Thursday, January 28, 2010

Half Time

In the first half of life, there is barely enough time to beyond second base. We are hunter-gatherers, doing our best to provide for our families, to advance to our children. In addition, for most men, and certainly a growing number of women, the first half finds us in our warrior mode. We need to prove ourselves and others that we can accomplish something big, and the best way to do that is to become increasingly focused and intense.

The second half, when the pressure lets up, seems to be more the time when most people round second base and begin to do something about the faith they’ve developed.

The first half of life has to do with getting and gaining, learning and earning. Most do this in the most ordinary ways. Some chase the prize in a more spectacular, aggressive fashion. Either way, few leave time in the first half for listening to God.

The second half is more risky because it has to do with living beyond the immediate. It is about releasing the seed of creativity and energy that have been implanted within us, watering and cultivating it so that we may be abundantly fruitful. It involves investing our gifts in service to others – and receiving the personal joy that comes as a result of that spending. This is the kind of risk for which entrepreneurs earn excellent returns much of the time.

There is a risk in this decision: In tossing aside the security blanket that keeps you safe and warm in your cautiously controlled zone of comfort, you may have to set aside familiar markers and reference points. You may feel, at least at first that you are losing control of your life.

Realize that not everyone can afford to devote only 20 percent of his time to his career. But don’t let the fact that you have to work for living limit the grace God has in store for you during your second half. Don’t allow the second half of your life to be characterized by decline, boredom, and increasing ineffectiveness for the kingdom.

Listen carefully to that still, small voice, and then do some honest soul-searching. What’s in your box? Is it money? Career? Family? Freedom?

Remember, you can only have one thing in the box. Regardless of your position in life, once you have identified what’s in your box, you will be able to see the cluster of activities that put into play your “one thing” and keep you growing.

But be careful. Growth is not always easy.

Remember, the second half is only part of the game. We all have to play the whole game.

Thomas Merton wrote that all you really need is in your life already. He called it the “hidden wholeness.” What he meant was that you do not need to chase after things outside of you to find fulfilment. Even though that’s what most of us do in the first half, we eventually learn that money, fame, material possessions, and experiences will never fill us. What we become in the second half has already been invested during the first; it is not going to come from out of the blue.

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